Markit Economics have released their Markit Flash U.S. Services PM Index showing a drop down to 49.8 from 53.2 in January. This Purchasing Managers' index (PMI) gives an indication of the health of the U.S. service sector by tracking the business conditions relating to employment and orders, among others, from a representative survey of over 400 companies across the U.S.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit said: "The PMI survey data show a significant risk of the US economy falling into contraction in the first quarter. The flash PMI for February shows business activity stagnating as growth slowed for a third successive month. Slumping business confidence and an increased downturn in order book backlogs suggest there’s worse to come."

The last time this index was this low was during the recession of 2008 with the exception of the US government shutdown in 2013. The final February report is due to be released on 3rd March.